Lighting

When it comes to digital photography lighting plays an important role. Learn how to use it to your advantage in this lesson.

Indoor photos

An indoor photoAn indoor photo

For indoor photography, your light sources can include lamps, ceiling lights, sunlight through a window, and your camera's flash. This gives you more flexibility, as you can move lights or turn them on or off to control the direction and brightness of the lighting.

Generally, the more light you have, the better your photos will turn out. However, you'll also need to think about the quality of the light, as some types of light are more flattering than others.

Your camera's flash

You may be tempted to use the flash for all of your indoor photography, but pictures taken with flash often have dark shadows and bright highlights that can be harsh and unflattering. You may want to try turning off the flash and working with the other lights you have. You can turn the flash back on if you find that your pictures aren't coming out.

In the photos below, the left photo was taken with the camera's flash, which causes harsh shadows to appear behind the subject. The right photo was taken without flash, which gives the photo a more natural look.

A photo taken with flashA photo taken with flash
A photo taken without flashA photo taken without flash

Indoor lighting tips

In professional studio photography, there will usually be a primary light (often called a key light), which is located off to the side but still in front of the subject. There can also be a second light called a fill light, which is located on the other side of the subject to help reduce shadows. Sometimes the photographer will use other lights as well. This type of lighting setup will usually cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

A professional lighting setupA professional lighting setup

If you're not a professional photographer, you probably don't have these types of lights. However, if you have lamps or a sunny window you can still position your subject to make the most of the lights you have. Here are a few tips you can use to take better indoor photos:

Natural light coming from the sideNatural light coming from the side